James Howells, a Welshman who claims he accidentally discarded a hard drive containing about £150 million ($184 million) worth of bitcoin in 2013, has reportedly secured funding to dig up a landfill site in Newport to replace the lost drive Find.
“Funding is secured. We brought in an AI specialist. Their technology can easily be retrained to look for a hard drive,” Mr Howells told BBC News.
The 37-year-old IT worker claims he started mining bitcoin in 2009, when they were first created, and acquired thousands of them when bitcoin was valued at around $130.
The bitcoin stored on that hard drive could now be worth nearly £150 million, he says.
“In mid-2013 the hard drive – then worth a few hundred thousand pounds – was mistakenly sorted out during a clearing out and dumped in a general bin at my local landfill, after which it was buried on site,” he says telegraph in 2017.
Mr Howells has made several requests to Newport City Council, including offering to split the money if it helps him search for the ride in a specific area.
However, the local authority had denied him the search for the hard drive, citing environmental concerns. They also said the project would cost millions and there were no guarantees the drive could be restored or even work.
“The City Council has also advised Mr Howells on numerous occasions that excavation is not possible under our permit and that the excavation itself would have a tremendous impact on the environment in the area,” a Newport City Council spokesman said last year.
Mr Howells has now said he would give a tenth of the proceeds from the hard drive recovery to help transform the city into a cryptocurrency hub.
The IT guy also believes he now has the means for an effective and environmentally friendly way to excavate the site.
Mr Howells has reportedly assembled a team of eight experts specializing in areas such as waste management, data extraction, AI-assisted sorting and landfill excavation.
He also sought the expertise of a consultant who worked for a company that recovered data from the black box on the crashed Columbia space shuttle. insider reported.
There is no guarantee that the drive will still be in the landfill and the data on the drive may not be in a recoverable state.